Download here the Application Note: Metal Coating of Diatoms

Diatoms are a major group of microalgae, found in oceans, waterways and soils of the world. Living diatoms generate about 20 to 50 percent of the oxygen produced on the planet each year, take in over 6.7 billion metric tons of silicon each year from the waters in which they live, and constitute nearly half of the organic material found in the oceans.

Diatoms are used to help determine the origin of materials containing them. One important field of use is forensics. A typical application is to differentiate a death by submersion from a post-mortem immersion of a body in water. Because the composition of diatoms is specific for a specific location, a sample of diatoms can point to a specific site. 

Diatoms are also used to monitor past and present environmental conditions, and are commonly used in studies of water quality.

The deposition of silica by diatoms may also prove to be of utility to nanotechnology. With an appropriate selection procedure, diatoms of particular shapes and sizes might be used to mass-produce nanoscale components. For all these applications SEM imaging is used to determine the shape, size and composition of a diatom sample.

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